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February 15, 2008


Waldman makes a good point, but he misses the obvious. The positions on which the media tend to brand McCain as a maverick--campaign finance, regulation of tobacco, tax cuts, immigration--are distinctive not so much because McCain's positions were those that were popular with the public but because those positions were favored by the media.

Moreover, the media's favorable treatment of those occasions when McCain has differed from the majority of his party is consistent with the more general phenomena of media lionization of Republican dissenters and media fascination with division among Republicans. By contrast, the media take a far less complimentary tone about dissenting Democrats who vote with Republicans, and the media tend to underplay or ignore legislative division among Democrats.

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